The Men’s Probus Club of Skegness founded 1974
SPEAKERS - February to May 2018 14th February Peter Skipworth - Tennyson on the Wolds A brief summary was given of Peter’s connections to Lincolnshire. A   broad   outline   of   Tennyson’s   family   life   showed   he was   one   of   12   children   and   had   a   very   unhappy childhood   as   his   father   was   an   abusive   alcoholic. They   lived   at   The   Rectory   at   Somersby   which   they shared    with    several    other    people    and    numerous animals. Tennyson   started   writing   poetry   from   the   age   of   8   and   had   written   a   blank   verse   play   by   the   age   of   14.     Alfred   was   left   to   his   own   devices   as   a   young   man. The   family   would   spend   holidays   in   Mablethorpe where   he   would   walk   for   miles   along   the   beach   on his   own   reciting   poetry.   He   inherited   his   love   of   wild   animals   and   to   the   annoyance   of   gamekeepers would   spring   their   traps. As   a   young   man Tennyson   stayed   at   the   old   moat   house   on   Drummond   Road when   Skegness   was   a   small   fishing   village.   He   spent   many   hours   at   Gibraltar   Point   and   also   visited the   Vine   Hotel   which   was   then   an   isolated   property   on   Drummond   Road.   In   his   early   20s   he   attended Cambridge   University   where   he   became   a   close   friend   of   Arthur   Hallam   who   was   a   big   influence   on him and helped to promote his career. In   1850   he   published   a   poem   called   “Memorandum”   which   popularised   his   work   and   at   the   death   of Wordsworth    he    became    Poet    Laureate    and    also    a    friend    of    Queen    Victoria.   After    leaving    the Skegness area he never returned.                                                                            Tom Hedges gave a vote of thanks 28th March Paul Hare  - Undarkened Skies (USAAF WW1) Soon   after   entering   the   war   in   April   1917   American propaganda   promised   that   she   would   Darken   the skies   over   Europe ”   by   sending   over   the   Greatest Aerial Armada ever seen ”. Encouraged    by    the    French    Government    America promised   to   build   no   less   than   22,000   aeroplanes within   a   year   and   to   field,   and   to   maintain,   a   force   of 4,000    machines,    all    of    the    latest    type,    over    the Western   Front   during   1918.   This   was   not   only   to provide   adequate   air   support   for   her   own   troops   but because   she   saw   this   as   a   way   to   use   her   industrial strength   to   bypass   the   squalor   of   the   war   in   the trenches   and   so   bring   an   end   to   the   stalemate   of attrition into which the war had descended.  However,   by   the   time   of   the   Armistice   more   than   18   months   later   just   a   few   hundred   American   built aeroplanes   had   reached   the   war   fronts   and   several   investigations   into   the   causes   of   the   failure   of   the project were already in progress. Tom Hedges gave a vote of thanks
April 11th Alan Gray   You Cannot Be Serious! (Wimbledon Umpire Tales) Alan   started   off   by   passing   around   a   few   photograph albums   and   then   went   on   to   talk   about   his   time   as   a Wimbledon   umpire   from   1988   until   his   retirement   in 2012.   Since   the   days   of   Fred   Perry   in   1936   British tennis   has   not   seen   much   success   until   very   recently. The   full   title   for   Wimbledon   is   The   All   England   Lawn Tennis   and   Croquet   Club   and   the   fortnight   long   event   is televised      to   180   countries   live   on   terrestrial   television.     Wimbledon    has    19    courts    and    tennis    is    played    on every   day   with   the   exception   of   the   middle   Sunday   -   to give the residents a rest. He   described   his   first   experiences   in   the   world   of   tennis   saying   that   in   1963   he   was   a   Scottish   under 18   champion   but   also   added   that   there   were   only   3   contenders!      After   30   years   as   an   umpire   he realised that the best job you can get if you cannot play tennis is to be a manager, trainer or umpire. Umpires   are   assessed   at   each   game   as   to   how they   react   with   the   players,   ball   retrievers   and spectators    and    each    Wimbledon    umpire    is selected   according   to   assessment.      Alan   had the   privilege   of   meeting   most   of   the   top   players of   the   day   and   he   asked   the   members   if   they knew   how   Boris   Becker   had   got   his   nick-name of   Boom-Boom   Becker?   It   wasn’t   because   of his serve but his antics off court!  Alan   gave   a   very   interesting   talk   full   of   amusing anecdotes. President Tom Hedges gave a vote of thanks April 25th Gemma Summerfield ' When You Wish Upon A Star' President    Tom    Hedges    welcomed    29    members    to    the    meeting.    The    guest speaker,   Gemma   Summerfield,   works   for   the   charity   '   When   You   Wish   Upon   A Star'. ‘Dream making for sick children’ is the charity’s motto. Gemma   told   of   how   she   came   in   contact   with   the   charity   after   an   eleven   year career   in   the   RAF.   She   is   now   Regional   Fundraising Assistant.   The   charity   helps sick   children   age   2   to   16   years   to   realise   their   dreams.   These   dreams,   for example,     can     be     holiday     trips     to Lapland, Centre Parks or even Florida. Gemma    concluded    by    illustrating    the    many    fundraising events held every year. The President thanked Gemma for her informative and professional presentation. 9th May Kevin Wilson Gibraltar Point Gibraltar   Point   was   first   designated   a   local   nature   reserve   and   later   redesignated a   national   reserve.      It   has   had   various   ownership   (Lincolnshire   County   Council, ELDC,    The    Crown    Estates,    Duchy    of    Lancaster,    Environment    Agency    and Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust) Various   types   of   migratory   birds   use   Gibraltar   Point   as   part   of   their   migration   route to   and   from Africa.       It   is   one   of   the   few   remaining   habitats   for   the   Little Tern. There are   only   about   400   left   in   the   country   which   put   them   on   the   endangered   list.   The knot,   a   wading   bird,   can   flock   to   about   10,000   and   migrates   from Africa   to   Canada using   the   reserve   as   a   stopping   off   point.      The   main   habitat   consists   of   mud   flats and salt marshes which provide a good source of food for the birds.  The   landscape   can   change   dramatically   -   as   in   2013   when   the   exceptionally   high   spring   tides   caused major   flooding   and   destroyed   the   visitor   centre   and   complex. A   temporary   centre   was   set   up   until   the new   visitor   centre   opened   in   May   2016   which   has   been a great success for locals and visitors alike. Tom Hedges gave a vote of thanks
23rd May Alan Stennett Railways and War   The   logistics   of   supplying   an   army :   during   the   Napoleonic   Wars ,   the   main   problem was   feeding   the   livestock.   They   relied   on   horses,   oxen   etc.   for   pulling   carts.   It wasn’t   until   the   American   Civil   War   that   the   railways   changed   the   face   of   warfare. They   were   able   to   transport   troops   and   their   supplies   by   rail;   as   many   as   200,000 men   were   said   to   have   been   transported   during   this   warand   up   to   20,000   men   were moved   at   one   time   down   the   Mississippi   Valley   for   the   battle   of   Chatanooga.   The   railways   became more   and   more   of   a   target   and   large   numbers   were   destroyed   but   ‘the   North’,   who   were   more industrialised, were able to repair them more quickly. The   Boer   War    was   a   railway   war   as   the   British   used   the   railways   to reach   such   places   as   Pretoria   but   the   Boers   were   very   efficient   at blowing    them    up.    The    British    repaired    them    very    quickly    and developed   what   was   called   “the   blockhouse   system”   to   defend   the railways.  WW1    was    totally    dependent    on    the    railways    as    motorised    road transport   was   still   in   its   infancy.   When   the   railway   structure   on   the main   lines   came   to   a   halt   near   the   front   lines   the   troops   had   to   walk as    they    had    done    since    Roman    times.    They    overcame    this    by building   narrow   gauge   lines   to   move   troops   and   ammunition   to   the front lines. In   WW2   the   railways   played   a   major   part   slowing   the   Germans   down on   their   advance   on   Dunkirk   because   they   were   unable   to   use   the damaged   French   railways.   It   also   hindered   their   advance   in   Russia   as   their   railway   lines   were   of   a different gauge.                                                                            Tom Hedges gave a vote of thanks